Integrating CSR with business strategy: A tension management perspective

Jaakko Siltaloppi*, Risto Rajala, Henri Hietala

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
174 Downloads (Pure)


Integrating corporate social responsibility (CSR) into a for-profit organization’s business activities is fraught with tensions. This paper reports a case study of a construction company, exploring how different tensions emerged to challenge company-level aspirations for strategic CSR integration. The study identifies three types of persistent CSR tensions and four management practices, discussing how the management practices led the organization to navigate CSR tensions in both active and defensive ways. Furthermore, the study explicates why the case company succeeded in integrating CSR into formal business strategy and shared attitudes but struggled with CSR integration in the domain of day-to-day operations. The paper contributes to the CSR literature by developing a tension-centric perspective on CSR development. It highlights the necessity of tension navigation at both the organizational and the action levels, the key role of active (as opposed to defensive) navigation of CSR tensions, and the importance of alignment between organizational and action levels in navigating tensions for sustaining strategic focus on CSR over time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507–527
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Corporate social responsibility
  • CSR tensions
  • Strategic CSR integration
  • CSR development
  • Case study


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